I am really psyched (haha) for later today -- running my first subjectthrough a fMRI. We prepped him for the experiment yesterday -- a variationon Tower of Hanoi, and I realized while playing with the software earlierthat it's fun to the point of being addictive. I think there's a certaincommonality, games like Tetris, Puzzle Bobble, and our Hanoi implementation,that underlies why I find them all so hard to put down once I start. I wonderif it's at all tied to my like of more complex strategy games, like CivCTPand Alpha Centauri. I don't like all games, but I think there is a commonality.Further, I wonder how this kind of thing ties into tests of intelligence --from what little I remember of IQ testing and a number of other standardizedtests I've taken at some point, they seem to share elements with thesetypes of games. Is a gamer of this sort going to end up ahead in IQ tests?Is that fair? Well, it might be -- perhaps more intelligent people are drawnto these kinds of games. On the other hand, perhaps that type of intelligenceis narrower than the kind we're looking for. It falls down to how generalizableskill is from one of this kinds of game to another, and what we want to callintelligence. It is plausable that problem-solving of this sort is a big partof intelligence, but it seems to me that.. well, a bigger unit that either isisomorphic to or a subset of general intelligence, is the ability to analyzea domain, map operator-space (may be discrete or effectively continuous),and navigate state-space, possibly using high levels of strategy andmetastrategy monitoring, within the constraints of the resources of the brainfor each iterative or recursive step. These types of games tend not to haveeffectively continuous operator-spaces on the lowest levels (Puzzle Bobblebeing somewhat more continuous). They do, however, seem to effectively testa fairly large subset of small-domain intelligence. The "small" must bestressed, however, as both more complex games (SMAC, CivCTP, as mentionedearlier) and complex mental tasks in real life done by people may be ordersof magnitude more operator-laden or state-space large than that.
Yesterday, I also visited the BIRC, a centre jointly runby Pitt and CMU for people working on neural imaging. I attended to go to twotalks, one by Dr Behrmann, a former professor of mine who I greatly respect.The facilities looked nice, and the talks were pretty interesting -- the firstwas about retrieval of correlation between neural activation and stimuli, usinga number of filtering techniques on the raw data. It was slightly surprisingto me what stages in the filtering were the most effective, and as I learn touse the scanner and manipulate the data myself, I'm sure I'll be able to puther work into a better context. The second, Dr Behrmann's talk, was abouther research into Prosopagnosia, in particular, genetic prosopagnosics versustrauma-induced prosopagnosics. I was unaware that the first group existed, andwhile some of her slides were reused from class, the overall content was a lotdeeper. I'm glad I went. We'll be using their facilities for the scanning today,and I'm going to need to learn how to get to the place on my own within thenext few weeks.
On the way there yesterday, we passed through some odd areas of Oakland,some places that my mind naturally caricatures... Very narrow, windystreets that go upwards, and that give a feel of being their own place,no other entrances than the ones I see, with tall apartments.. sort of likea twisted London of my nightmares. It left a strange impression that stuckwith me for awhile.
A few days ago, Mimi (my grandmother from Texas) called to talk about someevents going on at CMU that she saw on TV. I haven't heard from her forages -- I really want to visit her sometime.. she's living in Austin now,not far from my Uncle Mark, Aunt Holly, and my nephews Ryan and Connor.It'd be fun to see them all again.. I hope I can visit with my Dad.. It'dbe weird to visit alone, and in all honesty, it'd be easier for me notto need to worry about paying for a trip.
I'm going to be playing Badminton with K (and maybe N and someone else) onfriday, if things go as planned. Hurrah! I think part of the joy of Badmintonis that it's a ludicrous enough sport that it's hard to take it seriously, andso people just tend to have fun without becoming competitive. At the picnicDmitry had on the 4th, we all had a ball playing on the insanely uneven ground,with the Shuttlecock occasionally coming apart and the searches for the headpart.
I decided that I didn't want to wait on ordering the Neuros, and ordered ita few minutes ago. I was going to get it anyhow, and I do have savings, soit really doesn't make sense to deny myself time with it for the sake oftrying to keep a budget. Unfortunately, I lost my headphones a few days ago,so I might need to pick up a new pair. Oh well.
I've been even more reflective than usual, and have come to realize a fewthings about myself, or at least suspect, that may be rather shocking.
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Sorry about making it private. If you know me well enough, I might share itwith you on request.
The complexity of a certain area of my life is now really intense. Wow.
Also, it's strange -- I never mean to manipulate people except in waysthat are visible to them, and when I'm tempted to do so, I typically tryto let them know, and possibly refuse to comment on things that I think Ican't avoid said manipulations on. However, sometimes I realize after thefact that other things I comment on might be seen as manipulative, and Iwonder if this is chance, or if I actually am manipulating them withoutbeing as aware of myself as I should be. It is, na klar, usually impossibleto tell the difference from the outside, and perhaps from the inside in manycases too. In such cases where the doubts come later, is it better to mentionsaid things to the possibly manipulated person, especially if the topic isalready delicate, or is it better to avoid commenting on such topics, or isit better to keep the doubts internal and guard oneself? There are so manyways to work out the conflicting values and the possible realities from thesekinds of situations.
Finally, I tossed up the book I wrote in my childhood. With the understandingthat I was much younger when I wrote it, I present to you: The Old House.I hereby legally relinquish the copyright and place it into the public domain.Of course, understand that my permission here, from my perspective, ismeaningless anyhow, because I don't believe in intellectual property. I herebygrant you, reader of my blog, the philosophical, personal right that youactually already have to copy any data you have access to, modify it asyou see fit (provided that in doing so, you don't misattribute it), and shareit with others. This is your right, and something you should demand fromyour society, and exercise otherwise when it is worth the risks from theinformation hoarders and their servants.
Ahh, it's time to go have lunch and move money around.